April 25 Update: VICTORY!
After a month of wrangling over whether the Long Beach Redevelopment Board's action on March 27 "terminating negotiations" with the Filipino Baptist Fellowship Church actually revoked the condemnation authority the Board had previously adopted, CCJ Director John Eastman appeared before the Board at its April 24 hearing to introduce into the RDA Board's records a letter from Long Beach City Attorney Robert Shannon binding the City to the position that the authority to condemn the Church no longer exists. Although the Church remains in the Redevelopment Zone (and hence subject to future condemantion proceedings if the Redevelopment Agency decides to start the process all over again--a fact that Eastman has asked the Redevelopment Agency to address), the bulldozers have been stopped, at least for now! Chalk one up for private property rights and religious freedom. See Long Beach Press Telegram story.
April 5 Update: "Church still not in the clear?"
The Long Beach Press Telegram reported extensively on our concerns this morning. The City seems adamant that it need not revoke the Resolution of Necessity authorizing condemnation to actually terminate the condemnation authority. Hard to see how, but if they are right, why are they fighting so hard not to go ahead with a straight-forward motion to rescind the Resolution of Necessity? Methinks there is more to this story than meets the eye.
March 28 Update: VICTORY? Unfortnately, not yet.
The Long Beach Press Telegram reported on March 28 that the City had revoked the authority to condemn the Filipino Baptist Fellow Church. Unfortunately, that's not actually what happened. The Redevelopment Agency instead merely voted to terminate negotiations with the Church, leaving the condemnation authority in place. That's exactly what the City of Cypress did before it moved to condemn the Cottonwood Church. See our full response to the Redevelopment Agency here. Hopefully this is all just a mix-up, and the Agency will vote to revoke the condemnation authority at its next meeting on April 10, but stay tuned to see how this interesting development plays out. For now, Filipino Baptist Fellowship continues to hold Sunday services at its Church.
E-Mail us if you hear of eminent domain abuse against a church.
Truth Check: Get the facts. Redevelopment Agency Manager Barbara Kaiser claims that the City has offered suitable alternative locations. One was a "share-a-church" lease arrangement, not available Sunday mornings! Two others were "offered," but were not actually available for either purchase or lease! Most had no parking, were on small lots, or were elsewhere in the redevelopment zone. See our full response here.
March 13, 2006 Update: Long Beach Redevelopment Agency Votes to Condemn
Filipino Baptist Fellowship Church
At its March 13, 2006 hearing, after extensive comments from the community about the public good that a Church provides to the community, and after CCJ Director John Eastman noted that the record did not contain any evidence supporting a finding that condemnation of the Church was necessary to redevelopment of adjoining property, the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency Board voted 6-0 to condemn the Filipino Baptist Fellowship Church in order to make way for more condos. Although the City still claims to want to work with the Church to find it a suitable alternative location, it has still not demonstrated why it needs to take the existing Church in the first place.
Our Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence is representing the Church to try to stop the condemnation.
Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes Show featured the case on its March 3, 2006 "It Could Happen To You" program series. Still photos from the show are available here.
Watch the program, which is available on-line via streaming video here. Scroll down to the "It Could Happen to You" section, then click on the "Hellish Fight" video link.
Then help us do something to stop eminent domain abuse.
Call the office of Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill at (562) 570-6801, or e-mail her at email@example.com to protest condemning a Church to make way for condos. Call 6th District Councilwoman Laura Richardson at (562) 570-6816 -- the Church is in her district. Call the Redevelopment Board Members (names here) at (562) 570-6615
and let them know how outraged you are by this decision.
You can also call Barbara Kaiser, Executive Director of the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency, at (562) 570-6340, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ask Mayoral and City Council candidates to take the "STOP EMINENT DOMAIN ABUSE" pledge when attending candidate forums listed here
Leave a comment at our Local Liberty blog if you've had a bad experience with the Long Beach Redevelopment Agency.
And check back here for periodic updates about the case.
The Claremont CCJ Legal Team (from left: CCJ Director John Eastman, Chapman Law Student Tim Kowal, Chapman Law Student Kyle Beckley, and CCJ Assistant Director Karen Lugo) meets with Pastor & Mrs. Agustine.
Fox News - Hannity & Colmes (March 3, 2006). Still photos here.
Baptist Press (March 9, 2006).
The Wiley Drake Show, Christian Newswire
World Net Daily
(March 12, 2006).
KCBS-Channel 2 (6:00 p.m. Sunday, March 12, 2006). Still photos here.
Long Beach Greens (March 13, 2006)
United Press International (March 13, 2006)
California Republic (March 14, 2006)
Long Beach Press Telegram (March 14, 2006)
ABC - Channel 7 (scheduled March 14, 2006).
Frank Pastore Show - KKLA 99.5 FM in Los Angeles (4:15 p.m., March 14, 2006)
Baptist Press (March 14, 2006).
Airtalk with Larry Mantle - KPCC 89.3 FM in Los Angeles (10:30 a.m., March 15, 2006)
Hugh Hewitt Show (March 22, 2006)
Long Beach Press Telegram: Editorial (March 23, 2006)
Long Beach Press Telegram (March 27, 2006)
Long Beach Press Telegram (March 28, 2006)
Filipino Church Wary of Reported Land Seizure Reversal Baptist Press (March 28, 2006)
Long Beach Press Telegram: Editorial (March 29, 2006). Please see our response.
Orange County Register (March 31, 2006).
target="_blank">Long Beach Press Telegram: "Church still not in the clear?" (April 5, 2006).
Long Beach Press Telegram: Letters to the Editor (April 9, 2006).
Long Beach Press Telegram (April 25, 2006).
"Trust But Verify in Long Beach," Orange County Register (April 25, 2006).
Baptist Press (April 27, 2006).